How to Choose the Right Color & Type Palette for Your Brand | Part 1: Color

So you’ve settled on the logo that represents your brand perfectly and now you’re wondering what’s next?

Well, after the logo design, generally the next step in the design process would be to begin pulling together a color and type palette.

Sounds easy enough, but this is where many of us can get hung up. There are just so many choices. On top of that each color and font has its own “personality” of sorts. Kind of like people. Many times there are personalities that just don’t work as well together. Not only do these personalities need to work well together within in a group, but consideration should be given to how they reflect your brand’s traits.

So when you think about it that way you really can’t think of choosing on personal preference. This should be a business decision you make specifically with your ideal audience in mind. If the wrong choices are made with individual colors or fonts or the combinations, you may not effectively communicate to your customer and could end up looking unprofessional and losing their interest (and their business) altogether.

These days visuals are a huge factor in buying decisions. The visuals of your business go beyond just a logo. It's the whole package. How you communicate to your ideal customer is number one if you want your business to succeed.

The colors and fonts that you use for your business should enhance and reflect your core values and the underlying personality of your brand. By this point in the process you should have these things defined.

008_How-Choose-Color&Type_blog.jpg

 

PART 1: NOW LET’S TALK COLOR!

I love color. I love putting unexpected colors together. There are so many fascinating things about color and the effects they have on us.

Since color stands out to our eye from far away, it’s most often the first sensory experience we have with a brand. If we’re already familiar with a brand we can spot it from far away just by the color even when the logo is not in clear focus.


COLOR PSYCHOLOGY

If you don’t first explore the psychology of color you might be headed in the wrong direction from the start. Design elements can also have an effect on the perception and appropriateness of color for your brand so you don’t have to let this be the number one factor in your choice, but it certainly should be considered very strongly.

Color is a power which directly influences the soul.
— Wassily Kandinsky

Colors have a tendency to influence our emotions often unconsciously. They also have meanings and associations that we don't even realize we are connecting to because our knowledge of history and our past experiences with them. Choosing the wrong color or colors for your brand can give off the wrong or even a negative impression to your audience. You may feel drawn to use a certain color for your brand, but take a close look at psychology behind color before settling on anything too quickly.

Here is a little quick guide to some basic color psychology to get you started.

JSD_Color-Psychology_Quick-Guide.jpg

 

Why A PALETTE?

To be the most effective, colors need to work as a palette not just as individual colors. Remember your brand is more than just your logo. Even if you conclude you want a one color logo to keep it simple and you’ve already chosen the exact color you want. You might not want to just call it done. Your logo will be used in many different settings. It's good to have some control and consistency with how it is perceived in each context.

You also want the colors you use to evoke the mood you want your customer to feel when interacting with your brand. So having supporting colors is great even if your main color happens to be just one color. Keep in mind each color you use has to exist in context of the other colors surround it so having a brand palette is very helpful to give you options.


Start with inspiration!

Ok, so now are you at a loss of where to begin? I understand. It sounds daunting. A spectrum of colors with all these different meanings and emotions attached. It can feel paralyzing. I’ve never been afraid of color, per se, or experimenting with it, but it can be a little intimidating because there are so many directions you can go. How do you make a decision?

Here’s a suggested place to start. Collect a few images that you love and you believe reflect the mood and essence of your brand. These can be from places like Pinterest or another design inspiration site, comp images from stock photo sites (don’t worry this is just for inspiration not official design use) or free photo sites like Unsplash. (I really dig this site. They have gorgeous photos.) You can even use your own photography. Of course, they don’t just have to be photographs. Any image with color that inspires.

Pinterest Search

Pinterest Search

This method is something that many designers take extra time and care to do even before they begin any design work including the logo.

Once you’ve collected these images you may start to see commonalities of color and even other elements in these images to help inspire you (more on that in a later post). You can then start to narrow them down to a few and create an inspiration board. At this point you can begin to take color samples with a color picker of your choice. (I use Adobe Illustrator's eyedropper tool for this, but there are plenty of other tools out there.) You can always curate and tweak the colors to create the perfect palette for your project after you've sampled a range from your images.

Here's an example of an inspiration board created from images found on Pinterest.

Inspiration Board

Inspiration Board

Ideally you want your palette to have a few colors that drive the brand. Notice in the inspiration above there are a few colors pulled from the images within the board that represent the main color palette chosen. There is one dark, one medium, and light. Generally, these are used for the logo and the key elements of the brand design. This one has an extended secondary palette below of jewel tones used for blog post and specialty icons.

The primary color palette should be used sparingly so they call attention to the key elements of the brand, but don't over saturate. A secondary or extended palette can be used for things like blog post graphics, icons, and backgrounds to enhance and create extra interest for the brand. In all of this make sure you think about what will be used as neutrals, backgrounds and accent colors.


Common Types of color Palette

As you explore look at the following types of palette to help find a scheme that fits your brand perfectly. You don't have to be restricted to these schemes. If you feel brave customizing from there is always an option!

ANALOGOUS: a main color and colors from either side of it on the color wheel

ANALOGOUS: a main color and colors from either side of it on the color wheel

MONOCHROMATIC different shades and depths of a single color

MONOCHROMATIC different shades and depths of a single color

TRIAD: three colors from equidistant points on the color wheel

TRIAD: three colors from equidistant points on the color wheel

COMPLEMENTARY: complementary or opposite colors from the color wheel

COMPLEMENTARY: complementary or opposite colors from the color wheel

CUSTOM

CUSTOM


A few Tools to help

I used Adobe Color to create all of these schemes you see above. If you've got that main color chosen this is a good tool to help find colors that will support it. You can also pick colors directly from an uploaded photo or your entire inspiration board saved as one image. When uploaded the program will automatically zoom in on colors, but gives you the ability to move the dials around and pick out the hues you like best.

Another site I love to use is COLOURlovers. It gives me inspiration on new ways to use colors together. It also allows you to search by hue, a hex value or even a keyword like "vintage." If you look at palettes there is no rule you can't pick out one color from a scheme and use it as your starting point to create a fresh palette that works best for you.

- - - - - - -

I hope this was at least a little helpful for you. In my follow up post, I'll be talking about fonts types and type palettes. So stay tuned!